Week 9 in the Rugby Super League shows a rarity in the schedule for this year – four games.
With the dropout of the Utah Warriors, teams that had the Utah club on the schedule now sit idle. As a result, only twice is there a weekend wherethere are two games in the West.
Yet another example of how the Utah debacle undercut the league and the game.
Playoff qualifiers are decided already even with three weekends of games to go (which is a situation at odds with predictions, including ours, that held that the season would be in doubt until the end). NYAC and Life have dominated in the East.
Old Blue, with two, and Boston and Dallas with three games remaining, cannot catch Life even if the Running Eagles lost out and they won out.
In fact, those three teams can’t even play for a winning record, as they have already clinched sub-.500 season.
So the question is, can Life claim a home playoff game against NYAC? The answer is: technically, yes, but realistically, no.
Life will have to win both of their remaining games with bonus points (including against NYAC in Marietta), and then hope NYAC loses to 0-3-2 Dallas on May 19. It’s hugely, highly, enormously unlikely that such a thing will happen.
Life visits Boston Saturday and Dallas plays Old Blue.
The most interesting aspects of these games will be: 1) How does the Life pack perform against Boston’s scrum, which has been their best feature this season, and 2) Can Dallas and Old Blue reproduce the craziness that resulted in a 40-40 tie on March 31?
Both Dallas and Boston are looking for their first win (they tied each other). That search is likely to continue after this weekend.
In the West, SFGG and Old Puget Sound Beach have clinched playoff spots. The Chicago Griffins have just the one game left, and are six points adrift, and since you can only earn five points in a game, that’s it for them. Denver is 12 points behind with two games to go.
So, again, the question comes down to who gets homefield advantage. That question will remain unanswered, most likely, until the last game, when OPSB and SFGG face off in Seattle.
RUGBYMag.com will have eyes on the sidelines there to give you a full report.
It all comes down to bonus points, probably. SFGG can overhaul Beach by winning and denying the Seattle team bonus points, But seeing as Beach is averaging 50 points a game, it’s unlikely they will be held to less than four tries by anyone.
This weekend, OPSB goes to meet the Chicago Griffins, a team they beat 27-15 in Seattle March 31. In that game, fullback Isi Daveta was put out of the season by a late hit from Roland Suniula. OPSB’s replacement fullback, Mike Palefau, is in the UK with the USA 7s team, as is flanker Andrew Durutalo. So Beach will need to call on their depth.
You wonder if there’s a little bad blood between the two teams because of the hit (for which Suniula received a yellow card, but no other punishment). Hopefully it just becomes a compelling rugby game, and if the previous result is any judge, and if we put stock in the motivation of playing at home, and playing for a .500 season, then it could be a tough day for Beach.
SFGG visits the Denver Barbarians. This is actually a game that matches up well for Denver. They like to keep the ball moving, and Golden Gate’s bread and butter has been power up front. It’s possible Denver could run SFGG into the ground. More likely we’ll see another high-scoring explosion (games involving either of these two teams produce an average of 72 points).